I Want to Spend All My Money on Books


The Leeds Library, UK. Photo by Michael D. Beckwith. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

I won’t, of course, seeing as it wouldn’t be very practical. But, you know, a girl can dream! My idea of luxury is having a house with a dedicated reading room: somewhere with wall-to-wall books, a cosy woollen armchair, a dog to curl up by my feet and, best of all, unlimited time to read and think. An old English country estate, with a large house and extensive grounds, would suit my requirements perfectly.

But, alas, I don’t have millions in the bank, and I don’t actually spend much money on books anyway. Most of the books I read are galley copies, also known as advance reader copies (ARC), and I usually get them through publishers or NetGalley.  They are uncorrected proof copies which publishers distribute to generate some publicity and get people talking ahead of the official publication of a book.

The books that I’m reading usually haven’t been published yet, so I’m getting a sneak preview of what’s coming up in the literary world. Very often, I’ll read an ARC of a book and then a few months’ later, I’ll see it prominently displayed in bookstores. It’s a nice feeling: I feel like I was let in on a secret by getting to read the book before it was released and it didn’t cost me any money!


If you want to try getting advance reader copies, a Google search will give you plenty of information, such as this post by The Bluestocking Society. Publishers will generally only give ARCs out to people who are going to review them on their website, blog or other internet channels. If you have an established blog, you’re probably going to stand more of a chance in getting on the galley copy circuit.

Producing ARCs costs publishers money and authors don’t earn any royalties from them, so they want to make sure that the people receiving the ARC will review the book (on their blog, on Amazon, on Goodreads etc.) and get other people interested in reading it too.

I love being able to read and review advance copies, but sometimes there are books that I want to read and there’s simply no other option than to buy them. Here’s a glimpse at some of the books on my current literary wish list.

olivia-laing-book-coverOlivia Laing – The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

In this book, Laing explores the episodes of daily loneliness that she experienced when she moved to New York City in her mid-thirties. Her personal experience with loneliness after moving to that great, thrumming metropolis left her questioning “some of the larger questions of what it is to be alive”.

Moving between a memoir of her personal experience and an exploration of four artists (Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Henry Darger, and David Wojnarowicz), Laing’s book is part-memoir and part-reflection on how creativity can be interwoven with loneliness.

Mary Oliver – Upstream: Selected Essays


This collection of essays from the wonderful poet, Mary Oliver, has been on my wish list since it was published in October 2016.

Her essays cover thoughts on writing, creativity, and the natural world in her beautiful, reflective style. I’ve written before about how I find her poems deeply meaningful and how enjoyable they are to read. I think her essay collection is a book that I’ll be purchasing very soon!

To read more about Mary Oliver, Brain Pickings has an excellent selection of articles, which you can find by clicking here.



Mary Oliver – Dog Songs

This collection of poems, together with a concluding essay, celebrates the bond between humans and dogs.

With quotes from Oliver’s poems and a wonderful review of the book itself, here’s another Brain Pickings article: Mary Oliver on What Dogs Teach Us About the Meaning of Our Human Lives.

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”


Steven Pinker – The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century


This practical book from eminent linguist, psychologist and cognitive scientist, Steven Pinker, looks at how to apply the science of language and mind to aid in producing good writing.

This isn’t a pedantic, stuffy style guide — the reviews praise Pinker’s witty and entertaining style, which is also practical and draws on empirical evidence from linguistics and psychology.

I’m always interested in finding ways to improve my writing, and anything about linguistics grabs my attention too.



So, tell me, what books are on your literary wish list right now?



27 thoughts on “I Want to Spend All My Money on Books

  1. I’ve never thought to look into ARC books as a way to get new reading material and also help authors/publishers out by reviewing them. I’ve known about the system (which I think is pretty good, at least from a general consumer perspective) but since reviews have never been something I felt I was good at, I was happy enough to just read other people’s reviews. Being an Amazon Prime member though, I do appreciate their Kindle First program which is similar to ARC books and gives me new reading material each month. They recently started a Prime Reading feature for members so I also have access to certain books for free. Right now, I’ve got a few books on the docket, one of which is called Daughters of the Dragon that I’m looking forward to reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops, accidentally hit the post button before I was ready! The Lonely City sounds fascinating and something I’d definitely want to pick up myself. And that writing guide book also sounds wonderful! I hope you get to read at least some of the books on your wish list (so then you can come back and tell us how they were πŸ˜‰ ).

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think all they want is an honest summary of the reader’s thoughts on the book. I’m sure you could write perfectly good reviews. πŸ™‚

      The Kindle First program sounds really good. I’ve heard that Prime members also have access to a Kindle owners’ lending library – have you used that?

      Daughters of the Dragon looks like a good read. I hope you enjoy it. I’ve just started Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It’s a Korean family saga which spans the whole of the 20th century and begins in Korea at the time when the country was under Japanese rule. I’ve only read a few chapters so far, but it’s very well-written.


  2. The Sense of Style sounds like something I would really enjoy. I’m think I’m going to look into getting my hands on a copy. I, too, am tempted to overspend on books, which is why I usually try to get as much as I can from the library. In fact, I went today and things got a little out of hand. πŸ˜‰ I could barely get them all back to my car. I also get Amazon gift cards for Christmas and my birthday.

    I keep little lists of the books I want to read. Sometimes, they’re specific titles, and other times, they’re very general categories like “ancient mythology” or “Romanesque architecture”. I’ve never looked into ARCs, even though I’ve heard of them before. I probably should. I’m glad it’s working out well for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this post, my sitting room is lined with bookshelves, so maybe should be called a library !

    Also love the pic of the Cavalier King Charles, Among the seventeen rescue dogs I lived with
    ( three at a time ) I had six cavalaiers, two a a time..adorable, intelligent and utterly loveable…

    All the books you’ve written about sound utterly mouth-watering… I have to create a reality in which they arrive in my life….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Grace!

    I am buried in books these days and need to step it up. It has been wonderful to be a part of the NetGalley for quite a while.

    I would love to have more money for more books as well. But with Amazon Vine and NetGalley, I can read many without paying for them!



    Liked by 1 person

    • I can highly recommend looking into review copies. It’s so much fun and it has introduced me to books and authors I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. πŸ™‚

      Netgalley is good if you have a Kindle as all their advance copies are e-books. Anyone can sign up to Netgalley and you can request books from different publishers and then write reviews. Sometimes my requests get turned down (either I don’t meet the publisher’s requirements or too many people have asked for the book), but I’ve succeeded with quite a few.

      Small Great Things looks like a really interesting read.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had no idea non-journos could get ARCs. Good to know!

    My literary pleasure recently was receiving my annual lending rights payment (i.e. royalties paid to authors whose books are registered through the Canadian library system). I registered both of my books, thanks to a friend who told me about the system, (the U.S. has nothing like it) and my annual payment is usually about $450. I don’t know how they even calculate the payments, but it’s a way to compensate authors for the many lost sales when libraries buy our books — and 100s of people (maybe more) read them for free. It’s all very democratic, of course, but it’s $$$ we will never earn from those individual book sales.

    It makes me teary to know that people are still reading my work (2004 and 2011 publication dates.)

    Plus — a bit of spending money. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I feel privileged to have access to ARC copies but anyone with an established blog can try their luck. Sometimes publishers turn me down based on their criteria, but I’ve had success simply by contacting publishers directly and asking to review a specific title.

      Royalties! Very nice. πŸ™‚

      It was fun to see your quote and the reference to Malled in The Guardian today. I read the article during my break and it was very interesting.


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